“Punk: Chaos to Couture”—A New Take on Art at the Metropolitan museum

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There’s a certain point in the middle of August when we all grow bored with our mundane day to day routines of doing basically nothing. As much as an outing to a museum may seem too educational for a summer off, there is one particular fashion exhibit that is a persona lfavorite and perfect for those who have a hard time appreciating the work of Van Gogh and Monet on a hot summer day. For those who want a change from the paintings and sculptures usually found at  the MET,” Punk: Chaos to Couture” is a fashion exhibit that showcases fantastic pieces of art in an alternate medium.

The words “punk rock” and “fashion” strung together do not particularly excite me and even slightly scare me. This could be because the hard-core punk style clashes with my usual wardrobe choices.

However, I decided to keep an open mind and go to the exhibit, and I was pleasantly surprised. The seven galleries showcase garments ranging from shift dresses made of garbage bags to stunning couture straight from the ateliers of Versace and Dolce and Gabbana. The multimedia exhibition uses video and audio of punk icons like Sid Vicious and Vivienne Westwood to show how punk has been translated from the stage and the sidewalk to the catwalk.  In addition to these early punk models, more recent designs by Helmut Lang, Rodarte, Calvin Klein, and Moschino, are also showcased. These designers and other modern brands have taken the idea of punk style and brought it into the modern fashion world through crocheted skirts and paint-splattered tulle. The term “pretty” is not fitting to describe any of the garments, except for maybe the Dolce and Gabbana gowns with intricately painted layered organza skirts in the last gallery. Every piece in the exhibit is both shocking and unorthodox, fully embracing Vivienne Westwood’s philosophy: “The best way to confront British society was to be as obscene as possible.”

After coming out of the exhibit I was inspired to incorporate a small taste of punk into my own wardrobe. When it comes to adding a bit of punk to your wardrobe, it may not be as difficult or scary as it seems. Andrew Bolton, curator of this exhibit, told Women’s Wear Daily that “the legacy of punk on high fashion is the aesthetic of the DIY.” Ultimately, this means that a taste of punk is only an arm’s length away if you’re willing to bring out the glue gun. Though the trash bag look that is showcased at the MET may not be what every person is looking to wear, studs, safety pins, and ripped fabric are definitely a step in the right direction.